Is it a local or distant tsunami, and what should we do?

By Don Kendall, Curry County Emergency Services and Dave Lacey, South Coast Tsunami Outreach April 06, 2011 04:00 am

Editor’s note:

This is the second in a series of public forums regarding tsunami/earthquake preparedness in Curry County. The first forum was published on Page 5A in the March 26 issue.

Factoid 2: How do we know if it is a local or distant tsunami that is coming our way and what should we do?

For a distant tsunami in Curry County the sirens will go off which will give us plenty of notice. These sirens are the ones you heard at 4 a.m. on the morning of the 11th, on the first Monday of every month and sometimes for the volunteer fire department.  The wavering signal for four minutes is your clue that you should stay away from the beaches, low headlands and river mouths.

When you hear the siren, you should turn on a radio or TV, calmly leave those low lying areas and don’t go back until you hear an all-clear from our city/county officials.  Sometimes there will be more than one surge of waves, the third or fourth series could be bigger than the first waves and they can last for hours so you should not go down on the beach to watch the waves come in.

Factoid 3: The local Cascadia event: We heard about the distant tsunami and how –  if we are prepared –  there should be no loss of life.  Things are much more serious for a local Cascadia event. A local tsunami is one that originates just off our coast and is much more of a serious evacuation situation.  If the ground starts shaking and it lasts for 30 seconds or longer (sometimes they can shake for 3 minutes or more) then you should drop, cover and hold on. Get under some furniture and hold onto the legs until the shaking stops.

When the shaking stops, and if you are in the inundation zone near low-lying areas, look out for broken glass, grab your go-kit that you proactively stashed in your car or near the door of your house and run to high ground. Wait for the all clear signal before re-entering the inundation zone. If you don’t know already, find out if your home and/or workplace is in the inundation zone. Maps will be available at the libraries, at your city halls and they are on the county website at: Now that we understand the difference between a local and distant tsunami and know what to do for each, we can plan and prepare.

For information call 541-247-3208, or 541-373-0487.